Oedipus at Colonus, Theatro Technis, 19 January 2012
A multi-lingual production (English, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek) of Sophocles’ play in a productive small theatre in Camden. The last Greek play I saw was a No-Theatre-inspired, Greek-language production of Aeschylus’ Choephoroi in Oxford. The Mediterranean passion at Theatro Technis is a marked contrast to the stylized restraint of the Oxford performance.
Sophocles’ text gives us Oedipus at the end of his life, blind and guided by his daughter Antigone to the grove to the Eumenides at Colonus, a little outside the centre of Athens. It presents the conflict between the polluted figure of Oedipus, the sacred status of the grove, and the political demands of Athens and Oedipus’ native Thebes. The agon was suitably mirrored in the three languages. George Eugeniou’s Oedipus spoke entirely in Modern Greek, while pre-recorded (and sur-titled) Classical Greek provided an account of the mythical situation. The other characters spoke the rationalist language of English. Michael McEvoy’s Creon was the epitome of political management-speak. Theseus (Lucien Morgan), by contrast, offered a compassionate, if somewhat camp, welcome to Athens. The Eumenides are paradoxically fearsome and benevolent spirits, and they were constant silent and graceful presences upstage in this production. One image remains imprinted on my memory, which occurs once Oedipus and Antigone (Tania Batzoglou) are joined by Antigone’s sister Ismene (Nicoletta Procopiou), who arrives with inauspicious news from Thebes. Gathered around the central figure of Oedipus, the daughters completed a powerful trinity: clinging desperately together in a deeply compelling pyramid. At once presenting an image of strength and lamentation, the unity of the three figures evoked something of the power of a depiction of the lamentation over the dead Christ. But by focusing on the figure of Oedipus, the mythical symbol par excellence of a post-Freudian age, Eugeniou’s production creates an affective image that activates the mythico-religious in the present.